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How Do Other Christians Treat You?

From: nagasiva 
Subject: Re: How Do Other Christians Treat You?
Date: Wed, 20 Dec 1995 07:34:01 -0800 (PST)


|From: Swami GoBeyonda 
|Date: Wed, 20 Dec 1995 00:30:46 -0800 (PST)

|How have other christians treated you, after learning of your magical 

I have very few ongoing relationships with conservative Christians.
Sometimes I visit local churches and when I do people usually avoid
me as I am dressed strangely and probably seem a threat to approach
(I wear black robes most times of the year and Indian whites beneath
these or exposed in summer).

I have occasionally participated in what was called by the local
Metropolitan Community Church (lovely people!  wonderful acceptance!)
'Lenten Living Room Series', which are held every year in the living
rooms of volunteers from the church.  Without going into too much 
detail, they are group reflective interactions whereby we would 
consider deep personal issues (judgement, ethics, shame, death, etc.)
and share them in confidence with the rest of those present.  I found 
the experience to be very important and was quite surprised by the 
warmth and acceptance shown to me.

Within these group interactions I didn't hide too much about myself
or my interests, though I did blunt my language so as not to prove
antagonistic or overly alarming to those present.  I found, when I
occasionally mentioned the specific contents of my studies, that
while the reaction was mixed (some quite alarmed that I would be
involving myself in things often considered heretical or forbidden
to God-fearing Christians), that the reaction I received was very
admirable.  Most were accepting of my words and asked questions
to the point where they felt comfortable.  I received no warnings
or castigation, and continued to be respected by those present.

I recommend MCC in part because of the response that I and my Abyss
have received from it (they are openly accepting of homosexual
and eclectic lifestyles and this makes MCC somewhat controversial 
among more conservative Christians).

Occasionally I have met with conservative Christians online (in IRC,
Usenet, and some elists such as this one) and have seldom held much
back from the interaction.  In IRC and Usenet when I've done this I
usually am told that I am damned and headed for hell or something similar,
sometimes receiving hate-mail or being addressed in quite condescending
and imperious tones.  These days I ignore most of these responses as
undeserving of my attention and a contribution to my martyrdom studies.

Occasionally I will get a more conservative individual who wishes to
understand my words before moving on to their chosen (and safer) life
path.  With these individuals I maintain a guarded respect and have
sometimes learned a great deal about Christian tradition and scripture
from them, even when we knew we were from different worlds.  I tend to
find value in scriptural citation when the individual is substantially
familiar with their chosen texts and willing to explain why he or she
chose or accepts that citation as meaningful to the exchange.  In this
way I've come to know various translations of _The Bible_, for example, 
where reading it has rarely been enjoyable to me (aside from some 
versions of Genesis, the Gospels and Revelations ;>).

|What do your christian friends and acquaintances say and do, when you 
|talk about magick? 

These days I am very open about my interests in the occult and many
subjects which would scare ordinary Christians, and so those friends
and acquaintances I've *retained* after such exposure (some of whom
are subscribed to this elist -- you know who you are) usually share
my interests or are sufficiently familiar with them that they either
ask questions, bypass the remarks I've made with a smile, or engage
me in spirited conversation about the study.

There are sometimes borderline topics which I learn about in continued
interaction and when I occasionally mention these my friends and
acquaintances who have difficulty with them (even my Mother and she
tends to be areligious if not downright anti-religion) usually smile
and nod and then change the subject.  Their care and love for me
typically does not allow them to consider me as beneath or somehow
undeserving of their attentions despite the dangers of the things
with which I have trek.

|Is silence the best policy? Know, will, dare, and keep silent.

I feel differently about this depending on the situation.  There are
many times offline that I will intentionally blunt or translate my
language so that the person to whom I'm speaking will find what I'm
saying valuable and be able to continue interacting with me.  

Often in the presence of very conservative religious I am silent
about my interests unless asked very specific and direct questions,
in which case I consider part of my monastic practice to answer to
the best of my ability in a way which is accurate and meaningful.
Occasionally this leads to tension, but typically I'm tactful enough
to still remain respectably friendly despite their fear (for me or
for themselves or both).

Occasionally (and especially online) I take it upon myself to speak
candidly and without translation about my studies and practices,
and at times this has resulted in very heated and longlasting
debates, sometimes escalating into hate-mongering on the part of
the individual with whom I've exchanged words.  Most of the time
I find it valuable at that point to bring attention to the value
of Christian love and acceptance and desist from further interaction,
but there are occasions where I pick up the sword and vent my anger
toward them without restraint.

Within this elist I make it my duty to severely restrain myself 
(in part due to agreements I have made with the Moderators), casting
myself before a potentially abusive congregation as part of what I
am calling my 'martyrdom study'.  This actually comes very easy to 
me (I concealed my interests and activities from family and friends
for many years and am fairly good at it, I notice), though I intend 
to find ways to participate here in a way supportive of community
and open-hearted acceptance.

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